The Builder vs. the Designer

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I admit it. Being a designer AND a builder makes me a pretty odd cat. The builder in me loves smelling nail gun oil and getting down in the dirt with beasty power tools as much as the next guy, but is it so wrong that the designer in me wants to look like a rock star while I do it? Is there, like, a construction-dude rule book that says I’ve gotta wear overalls and a wife-beater or I won’t be taken seriously? I don’t think so. Ripped jeans, bling, and awesome hair product is the new look boys. Don’t get left behind like my wife who is still waiting for the 80’s style to come back.  But I digress . . .

The war between the builder and the designer is as old as time itself . . . and that’s reeeally old.  Ok, I might be using a bit of dramatic licence there, but stay with me. The builders have historically been the technician types that can construct whatever plans are put in front of them, but they aren’t typically the creative sort. Designers, on the other hand, are full of all kinds of creativity, but less likely to have picked up a hammer in their lives. These two sides normally get along about as well as Maple Leaf Fans and Team Upper Management. 

But how does this relationship affect you, the homeowner? I thought you’d never ask. When you call a contractor . . . any contractor . . . most homeowners are quite familiar with an interaction that goes something like this:

Homeowner: Thank you for coming by, okay . . . this is where I am wanting “such and such” work done.

Contractor: Okay . . . well, what do you want? 

Homeowner: Oh . . . uhhhh . . . well I’m not sure . . . I was hoping you could tell me? I need ideas. This isn’t my forte.

Contractor: Well . . . (and at this point this very gifted builder will recall projects he has built before, and see if he can use them here) Why don’t you just do this and that?

Homeowner: Okay. Do you think that will look good?

Contractor: Of course! 

Now, if the contractor gets the job, good for them. He or she is a talented builder who knows what they’re doing, has great references, and knows that when they say it’ll look good, that it will. The only question remaining is this . . .

Does what worked well for somebody else’s house make it the best choice for THIS house?  Being that the design segment of the project lasted about 2 minutes . . . I HIGHLY DOUBT IT!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many builders out there who are also creative design types, but they are the exception to the rule.

I cannot begin to tell you how many people have told me their stories of regret in not having their project professionally designed, even though the job that was done for them was well done. What makes it worse is the realization that, for the same amount of money or moderately more, they could have had something that was truly mind-blowing.  

Like I said, I’m an odd cat. As a designer, I have a great relationship with all the talented builders who construct my designs, as I am also a builder. We understand each other. Perhaps the age old war is ending 😛

Now . . . if I can just remember to pick my ripped jeans off the floor so my wife doesn’t kill me, all will be right in the world.